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K1 Visa Experience

Updated on March 20, 2011

Our Experience with the K-1 Visa Process

This article is about the K-1 Visa process.   A K-1 Visa is also known as the marriage visa.  I am from the United States and my husband is from the UK.  Perhaps you can learn from what we went through.

The K-1 Visa process has taken years and quite a bit of money. Anyone considering marrying someone from another country really needs to do their homework on the laws specific to their situation.

I want to share my experience with you and let you know the things that I believed helped us. Please understand that every situation is different and I am by no means offering legal advice. If your situation has any type of complications you don't see covered on an official government website, you very well may need to hire an attorney specializing in immigration.  Typical attorneys usually do not have enough background in immigration law.  You really need an immigration specialist.

First, you will want to locate your government's official website. There are lots of unofficial websites out there and they will give you conflicting advice. However, one thing that everyone agrees on is the importance of good documentation.

These are the steps we took to obtain a K-1 Visa (aka Marriage Visa) and my advice based on my specific experience:

  • The U.S. citizen (Petitioner) in a K-1 Visa is responsible for gathering various documents to send with official form(s). Make sure you fill out all the requested information neatly and completely. Send original documents only when you are required to. Copies should be sent when allowed.
  • Assemble all the forms and supporting documentation in the order requested and attach a cover letter itemizing all the items you're sending
  • Make a copy of everything for your records. You'll be glad you did if anything should turn up missing.
  • Mail the form(s), documentation, and proper fee (for us it was over $300) to the USCIS Service Center appropriate for your area. This address can be found on their website. It does change sometimes due to workload. Fees also change. Make sure the amount you send is correct. It will be rejected if it is not correct.
  • Do not make any travel or wedding plans until your visa is formally approved. You cannot guarantee the timeline of any of this process.  
  • The USCIS will send you confirmation once they have received your documentation called a Notice of Action (NOA). You will receive another notice (NOA) once they have approved your petition. Once the Service Center has approved your petition they will forward it to the National Visa Center.
  • The National Visa Center will notify the U.S. Embassy located in the country foreign Beneficiary (your fiancé/fiancée) is a citizen in.
  • The Embassy will notify the Beneficiary with a checklist of documentation to gather. Promptly return the documentation.
  • The Embassy will notify the Beneficiary of the date and time of a scheduled medical exam located at a physician in the Embassy town. This can mean extra travel and expense depending on how far your fiancé/fiancée lives from the physician's office and what time the appointment is. There is a fee involved. For us, it was close to $500 plus travel expenses since he lived hours away from where he was required to go.
  • The Embassy will notify the Beneficiary of a time and date to come in for an interview. Again, this may cause extra travel expense. Be prompt. Please understand that the Embassy has tight security and will not allow some items. Don't take anything with you that may cause you problems. Use common sense. 
  • At the interview, be polite and understand the seriousness of the procedure and the importance of being honest.
  • Assuming all is well with the medical and the interview, the Embassy will notify the Beneficiary that the K-1 Visa is approved. For us, from the time we mailed the initial paperwork until my fiancé received his Visa approval was 5 months.
  • Once the K-1 Visa is approved there is a 6 month window for the Beneficiary to travel to the United States. Now is when you want to book your travel and plan your wedding date.
  • The beneficiary will be met at the point of entry into the United States and will receive an I-94 that will be attached to his/her passport. This starts the 90-day window for getting married. It is beneficial to get married early in the 90-day period if at all possible. If the ability to work immediately upon entering the United States is important to you, you will want to check on temporary work authorization.
  • As soon as possible, you'll want to apply for a social security card. We did this his first week here. The SS card he received in the mail indicated that DHS (Department of Homeland Security) approval was required for work authorization. Authorization will come with the approval of a ‘change of status. We tried to apply for his Texas Driver's License but unless we could show at least 6 months prior to expiration of a Visa, they required a change of status before they would approve the driver's license. Since the K-1 visa is only valid for 90 days upon entry, the K-1 visa would never work for getting a Texas Driver's license. We'd have to get the change of status first.
  • Immediately, after getting married you will want to promptly file a change of status. The form, fee and address can be found on the official website. You want it to be approved before the K-1 expires and that doesn't give you much time. There is a hefty fee for this filing. For us, this was over $1,000. That's a lot of money considering all the costs you've already had, plus all of the relocation and travel expenses, and a wedding.
  • You'll receive notice of a Biometrics appointment at the closest service center. Again, travel may be involved. We were scheduled at a location about an hour away.
  • The work authorization was received about a month after they received the application and the Permanent Residency card was received 3 ½ months after the forms were received by them.
  • The Permanent Residency card under the K-1 Visa is considered a conditional permanent residency and you have to apply to remove the conditions after 2 years. That involves more paperwork and more money. Another biometrics appointment, and you get your official green Permanent residency card that is good for 10 years

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    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      My advice would be to attach a COPY of any documents they are requesting to the form and then take the ORIGINALS to the interview.

    • profile image

      MikeyB 

      6 years ago

      Thankyou. I wonder if you could help me with one more thing, when filling out the DS156K for the London Embassy, it states at the bottom to please attach several documents, the same as the ones required at the interview. Did your husband submit those documents to the embassy with the form or did he just need to take them to the interview itself? Any help you can give is massively appreciated!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      MikeyB, the 5 month period I was referring to was from initially filing the I-129 paperwork to begin the whole process until he was actually issued the Visa.

    • profile image

      MikeyB 

      6 years ago

      Hi, when you say 5 months from initial paperwork, do you mean the filing of the I-129f or the paperwork to return to the US embassy in London? Thanks

    • profile image

      Guest1234 

      6 years ago

      Hello KCC,

      Thank you for the blog. It really is so informative. Do you by any chance know any reliable and authentic immigration lawyer firm that process K1 Fiance Visa?

      Thank you once again and all the best to both of you! Live Happy!!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      My husband finally became a US Citizen on 12/9/2011!

    • profile image

      Abdelkarim 

      6 years ago

      I just applied for my Adjust of Status to get the green card I submitted the I-485 form but actually need the permission to work and SSN said that I must wait for my green card first and there is nothing to do for driving I used international driver license plus my original Moroccan one its ok until now was checked twice by Police Officers was kind of terrible moments.there is any way to us my receipt to get Texas driver License ? had the biometrics and seams like I should get the card in few week case is transferred to California office on the Oct 18th,2011.or to contact the USCIS and get temporary Stamp on my Passport for green card ?

      if u have any answers pls contact me by email . abdelkarim.ait.balkheir@gmail.com Thanks

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      7 years ago from Central Texas

      I emailed you Danielle.

    • profile image

      Danielle 

      7 years ago

      Hey I have a few questions that I am wondering if you could help me with. I am helping someone that came here on a K1 visa and his finance left him. I am looking for a great lawyer that can help him with this situation. If you could direct me to one that would be great. My email is dcutie88@aol.com. Thanks

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      7 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks for your comments Jessicapotter24, Roxanne Senson and Angela.

    • profile image

      angela 

      7 years ago

      my k1 visa approval august 19, 2011 until January 6, 2012, because of some problem i decide not to go right away. instead i plan to going U.S Oct 25,2011.. is that mean i dont have time to getting married because in K1 visa said they give 90 days before getting married..

    • profile image

      Roxanne Senson 

      7 years ago

      This is helpful, we didn't realize that we have to do a lot of things after we receive our marriage license and now i can't able to get my SSN because my I-94 is already expired so we have to wait for the approval of Change Status...

    • Jessicapotter24 profile image

      Jessicapotter24 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      I really enjoyed reading your hub!! Nice of you to pen down your experience. The K-1 visa process is indeed a long and a costly one too. That combined with the travel and wedding expenses will surely empty the applicant's purse. But it is all worth it, isn't it? Getting a Green card and then becoming a US citizen still retains the charm!!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      7 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks francisid. A little research goes a long way.

    • profile image

      francisid 

      7 years ago

      nice hub!thanks!

      as always,do your homework before taking your jump!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      7 years ago from Central Texas

      LOL....thanks Eaglekiwi! It really is a nightmare process, isn't it? We're almost through. He is a permanent resident without conditions now, but he wants to get his citizenship. We have to wait until April before we can file for that. Then he's done. Glad you're being made welcome here. I'll let hubby know about the World Cup. LOL

    • Eaglekiwi profile image

      Eaglekiwi 

      7 years ago from -Oceania

      Enjoyed reading your very informative hub.

      I was/am like your husband an alien (do do do) or is that na no na no ,lol.

      Anyway we were both married in my home country (New Zealand) 12mths prior to returning to the states and boy what a circus its been.

      Despite being armed with all necessary documents, we have felt steamrolled into needing a Lawyer-incredible!

      We have already been through all of the red tape in New Zealand ( though it began as an enaged couple) and we thought that was time consuming-ha ,little did we know what lay ahead in the grand ole' U.S of A. Sigh. ( do love my in laws ,and kindness and friendships forged so far, I am so grateful to every day American people who have made me feel so welcome etc ,but Politics...grr..

      Its exhausting and emotional draining.

      I wish you both every success and much happiness,wherever you call home xo

      P.S Tell your hubby New Zealand will win the Rugby World Cup though (hehe)

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      8 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks Jerry & Tatiana! Good luck on your K-1 Visa Journey. My husband now has all the ccnditions removed on his permanent status. We can apply for his citizenship in April.

    • profile image

      JERRYandTATIANA 

      8 years ago

      If you want to check out a fun song about one couple’s K-1 Visa Journey, check out this link at http://www.jerryandtatiana.com/dancinginmoscow.htm...

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      8 years ago from Central Texas

      We just sent off the paperwork to remove the 2 yr conditional status. Hopefully, this will be the end of our paperwork for awhile.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      8 years ago from Central Texas

      Congrats Tori! Yes, it is never-ending.

    • Tori Maltby profile image

      Tori Maltby 

      8 years ago

      It is never ending!!!

      I have just received my temp work permit and advanced parole so I'm smiling today!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      8 years ago from Central Texas

      We are due to file again in June (actually 90 days before then) to have the conditional part of his residency removed. He's in that 2 yr period from when we filed for change of status the first time.

    • Tori Maltby profile image

      Tori Maltby 

      8 years ago

      Hi KCC - I entered the country on a K1 Visa and am now going through the process of trying to get my change of status. I recieved my temporary work permit in the mail today - it didnt take too long.

      Dawn Gray - You cannot leave the country until your change of status has been approved and even with a lawyer this could take time. What you can do is when you file for the change of status you can request advanced parole which will allow you re entry into the US. I am trying to obtain one of these documents to go home to south africa for christmas. For more info see my blog - if you have any questions please shout!

      KCC - is everything now completed for your husband?

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      8 years ago from Central Texas

      It's a great question for an attorney, Dawn. I would ask them. I'm certainly not an attorney, and I have wondered about that type of thing myself. In our case, we have not even dared to leave the state until his conditional residency is up. I personally think it's better to stay put for a couple of years.

    • profile image

      dawn gray 

      8 years ago

      Thank..you ..helpful. I am wondering, If we have a lawyer and get married in Feb. How many months after filing all paper work interviews...can we return to his country. I spend half the year in his Country and half in the USA...??? Help

      dawn

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      8 years ago from Central Texas

      It sure seems like it Emigrate. I guess it should be to some extent, but man, there is a lot to it.

    • profile image

      emigrate to australia 

      8 years ago

      Immigration is always complicated isn't it?

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      10 years ago from Central Texas

      Thank you, Benson!

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 

      10 years ago from Hong Kong

      that's interesting and useful.

      welcome on board.

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